I have had Diana Henry’s cookbooks from even before I wanted to learn to cook.
I once read an article about her, where she informed the readers that she had over 700 recipe books that she had collected during her life time and she had published a few books of her. Her collection was impressive and it also drove me to my own madness of buying every possible cookbook under the sun.
Up until lockdown, I never really took a good look at all my cookbooks. When lockdown happened, I was able to really take the time out and look at each and every recipe book. By the time the president moved to level 3, I had over 500 recipe books that were ready to be dropped off at Wagtails Charity shop. Now I am able to fit all my recipe books nicely into one bookcase and not have every service in my study covered in recipe books or recipes that I have cut out from magazines.
Diana’s books come covered in plastic wrap. I never got the chance to break open the plastic when I initially bought her books. So when I eventually did get around to breaking open these bad babies, the plastic had changed colour and was so soft it just cracked and slid off.
Nothing really caught my fancy in her book “ How to eat a peach.” When I cook for my family, it has to be a hearty meal, something you can really dig into and enjoy and actually be full after one plate and there has to be left overs for supper or a midnight snack. My family are not into one plate meals and I don’t have the time to stand in front of a stove for breakfast, lunch and supper. Breakfast yes, lunch yes and supper has to be lunch’s left overs or takeaways. I love my family a lot, but I don’t love them that much.
I was really contemplating donating this book as well, don’t get me wrong, the recipes sounded perfect, the pictures looked delicious but for example if I had to make Courgette, ricotta & pecorino fritters, I would need to make something else to go with it. There would be no way my father was going to eat these fritters plain. And the recipe serves 6, so it would need to be doubled or tripled to have enough left over for supper.
Or if I had to make burrata with fennel, roast peppers anchovies and capers. This would be a dish I would eat. I could make this dish without even leaving the house as I have peppers in the fridge, anchovies and capers in the pantry, herbs in the garden and a fennel bulb in the fridge waiting to die. One look at this dish and neither of my parents would touch it. My mother couldn’t eat it, because it has anchovies in and my dad well this dish contains everything that his against. The red peppers would give him heart burn and capers are my dad’s most hated ingredient every created.
So you see, why I was so ready to give it away and then I came across this recipe and at I was super excited. But then I came home from a long day at work and I read the first instruction, make your own pie pastry from scratch and I was like seriously, I have nothing left in me and you still want me to make pie pastry. I was going to skip that part and convert this into a quiche, but my OCD tendencies got the better of me and I gave in and made the pastry from scratch. It wasn’t that difficult, the food processor did the hard work and all I had to do was roll out and blind bake. I was finally putting my baking beans to good use.
I had promised myself that if I hadn’t used those baking beans by the end of this year, they were going on the donation pile. But alas they were used and they did wonders, no more shrinking of the dough or having the center blow up like a balloon.
I didn’t have high hopes for this recipe as I was 100% sure that my father would assume this was a quiche and nibble on a few slices. His not a huge quiche fan.
But I was surprised when he at a quarter of the tart in one sitting and went back for a midnight snack, that when I woke up in the morning to pack the left overs for his lunch, there was only one slice left over.
My verdict, I loved it, the buttery crust was melt in your mouth and the filling was soft and creamy. My mother, who couldn’t eat this dish, said it smelt delicious and looked absolutely mouthwatering.
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 275g x cake flour.
- 150g x butter, chilled and cubed.
- Pinch of salt.
- 2 x large egg yolks.
- 2 x tsp ice cold water.
- Place the four, butter and salt into a food processor.
- Blitz till the mixture resembles crumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and water and blitz till the mixture comes together.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and shape the dough into a disc shaped.
- Wrap in cling film and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Carefully place the dough into your pie dish and shape accordingly. Trim off any excess dough.
- Place a piece of parchment paper onto of the dough and evenly spread the baking beans across the top.
- Pop into a preheated oven.
- Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes and then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for a further 8 minutes or till the dough starts to become lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool, while you make the filling.
Ingredients for the filling:
- 30g x butter.
- 3 x onions, thinly sliced.
- 1 x tsp ginger garlic paste.
- 450g x spinach, washed and roughly chopped.
- 2 x large eggs plus 3 egg yolks.
- 375ml x fresh cream.
- Pinch of black pepper.
- 2 x tsp English mustard.
- 150g x mature cheddar cheese, grated.
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add the onions and sauté till the onions are golden brown
- Add in the chopped spinach and ginger garlic paste and cook till the spinach has wilted and all the water in the pan has cooked away.
- Remove from the heat.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and cream till well combined.
- Mix in the mustard and season generously.
- Add in the cooked spinach mixture and mix.
- Finely fold in the grated cheese and mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the baked pastry case.
- Pop into a preheated oven and bake at 180 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes or until the mixture has set and the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.